Just in: Switzerland shuts down opera and concerts

Just in: Switzerland shuts down opera and concerts


norman lebrecht

February 28, 2020

The Swiss government this morning banned all large events of over 1,000 people until March 15 at the earliest, due to coronavirus fears.

That will include all opera and concert performances.

We await further details.

UPDATE: How Zurich Opera gets around the ban


  • Paul says:

    Can’t the orchestras and operas simply limit ticket sales to 999 people? Seems like an easy solution 😉

    • Genius says:


    • Christopher Clift says:

      And what do the concert and opera promoters do if they have already sold in excess of 1000 tickets for any performance?

      • Karl says:

        More but smaller concerts? If an orchestra is scheduled to play 2 concerts with 2000 people in each just spread that out over 4 concerts.

        • Chris says:

          That would incur four times the production and operating costs as presenting a single concert, with no commensurate rise in ticket revenues. It would be financially crippling. Simply canceling, while unfortunate, is the only real possibility. This is why force majeure clauses exist.

    • V.Lind says:

      Serie A football clubs in Italy are playing matches with no spectators. La Liga and Bundesliga may follow suit.

      Look, this thing seems to be spreading. Sub-Saharan Africa has just reported a case. Cases are beginning to crop up where there is no known contact with China or anyone who has been there or anyone who has come from other now-infected hubs. People cleared to leave the Diamond Princess have since contacted it, proving the tests are not foolproof and the incubation period may be different than it has been thought. This morning one of those British people died.

      PEOPLE ARE DYING. And people are innocently contracting the virus and taking it wherever they go. Of course there are cultural costs. There are potentially more significant economic ones.

      I do not think March 15 is going to cover this thing, and I am not sure that a ceiling of 999 people prevents anything. Other places are taking a position — places like Japan are shutting down, places like Trumpland know it’s not serious and anyway it won’t get through their marvellous border controls, especially now that Il Pence-roso has taken the lead. Switzerland seems to have confused neutrality with splitting the difference.

      • Gustavo says:


        The virus was genetically engineered by environmentalists to control human population growth and mitigate climate change.

        • Larry D says:

          I’m not a loon, I’m not!

        • Robert Roy says:

          I’m not sure I agree with your theory BUT I definitely think there’s something about this illness that the general public are not being told.

        • Pablo says:

          Gustavo, I thought they killed you in Narcos, cabron.

        • Tamino says:

          It kills mostly old people, just like any influenza virus. Likely with a similar (relatively low) mortality rate.

          If you wanted to intelligently design a virus to curb population growth, you would have to go for the generations that procreate or will do so in the future.

          If one wants to put on the tinfoil hat, then the conspiracy might be in the restrictions of freedom of movement, using the virus and overblow its impact in the media.

  • Michael Israelievitch says:

    SWR Symphonieorchester Stuttgart is supposed to play in Lucerne in a few days. And in Turin, Italy, and in France, and in Spain. We’re still hoping (some of) the tour can proceed safely, but it seems Asian tours are no longer the only ones in jeopardy.

    • - says:

      Artists with this special touch are excluded from the ban. no human being on earth could survive without Teo ..

      • - 2 says:

        i heard he even worked with a shaman on the way of conducting Strauss and Mahler in a proper way. the SWR produced already a new TV series about how Teo ‘s conducting is saving the world .

  • Mustafa Kandan says:

    In all the years I have been travelling to Europe from Australia, I have faced many challenges, including volcano eruptions, terror attacks, airline strikes and sickness in the family. In two months time I am supposed to be in Europe & this is the biggest challenge so far. There seems to be a state of panic in Europe that I have not noticed in Australia.

    • Mike Schachter says:

      How right you are, including shutting schools when children have minimal susceptibility to the virus.

      • Lausitzer says:

        I heard an expert opinion that limited closures are indeed an appropriate measure to curb the distribution of the virus. Kindergartens have a reputation as epidemic slingshots anyway. You do want to have all the nice stuff at home? Then send your children there!

        However, panic is indeed going on here. People hoard certain products like noodles (many photos of empty supermarket shelfs appeared today on Twitter) and, really bad, the last supplies of protectional masks and disinfectants (some doctor’s offices already had to close for this reason). And all this while no one takes any notice whatsoever of the current influenca season.

  • Alexander says:

    ….and the night at the opera takes its shape …
    what’s the talk in London on that scary virus?
    I, personally, don’t believe in that hysteria at all, all the same some gentlemen who are in charge should produce their clarification to the world 😉

  • Mustafa Kandan says:

    It looks like my upcoming visit to Europe in May-June will be transformed from being a cultural one into something completely different. All I may get is good food & good wine at best, at worst Corona virus.

    • Gustavo says:

      You will get a sense of the gradual and moral decline like in ancient Rome or during the plagues Middle Ages.

      Sipping wine onboard sinking ships is part of western European culture which was successfully exported to the under-world.

    • Brian v says:

      It might be better to stay at home and listen to your cds/records. Less tension and
      Better with a glass of port.

    • Lausitzer says:

      Chances are that you may as well stay at home to get this.

      Btw, it is expected that warm weather will stop the spread of Sars-CoV-2 in the same way than it does to influenca viruses. So it could be that the next autumn/winter will become the most “interesting” period.

  • Patrick says:

    In health safety terms, what precisely IS the difference between 999 and 1000?

  • Rob says:

    This brings the Cassandra Crossing to a whole new level.

    • Karl says:

      Didn’t you see Quarentine (2008)? “A television reporter and her cameraman are trapped inside a building quarantined by the CDC, after the outbreak of a mysterious virus which turns humans into bloodthirsty killers. ” Spoiler alert- even cute little kids!

  • Aktueller Beschluss des Kantons Zürich
    Der Kantonsarzt hat Veranstaltungen mit weniger als 1000 Personen im Kanton Zürich explizit erlaubt. Die im Opernhaus Zürich geplanten Vorstellungen werden bis auf Weiteres mit maximal 900 Zuschauerinnen und Zuschauern stattfinden. Wir beobachten laufend die Situation und werden Sie in enger Absprache mit den kantonalen Behörden umgehend über Neuigkeiten informieren.

    • Dave says:

      Speak English please!

    • Lausitzer says:

      Of course no explanation from Herr Kantonsarzt for the arbitrary 1,000 cut-off. I’m sorry, but the arrangement you announce here is a rather silly bureaucratic stunt.

      And yes, it would have been appropriate to post it in English to this blog which certainly has the majority of its readers outside the DACH countries. Is Opernhaus Zürich really not prepared to communicate with foreign audiences like the opera companies in the Großer Kanton meanwhile are?

  • Kristina Rapp says:

    A very good idea to keep people safe from this virus.